Tuesday – Friday | August 25-28, 2020

Georgia World Congress Center | Atlanta, GA | USA

Working with Architects and Designers

Date: Wednesday, August 22nd from 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Session Code: BMG25

Location: B311

Sponsored by: KCD Software

Presented by: Cabinet Makers Association - CMA

Chris Dehmer, Managing Partner: Darkhorse Woodworks,
•  James Fox, President: Fox Woodworking
•  Joe Knobbe, Senior Project Manager: Exclusive Woodworking, Inc.
This session will share tips for working successfully with top-tier architects and designers on high-value residential projects. Experts from three cabinet shops of varying sizes will mine their years of hard-earned wisdom to share successful methods for securing and managing high-value residential cabinet and millwork projects.

About the Speakers



LWood-working is in Chris Dehmer’s DNA. His great-grandfather was a German wood-worker who immigrated to the United States late in the 19th century. Wood-working has been a lifelong passion for Chris, stretching all the way back to childhood, when he spent hours with his grandfather in his workshop. (For a 5-year-old, filing a piece of scrap wood into a pile of sawdust was truly exciting.)
Chris, a native of Fayetteville, NC, built commissioned pieces for nearly 25 years, moonlighting while working day jobs in the technology and construction management industries.
Then, nearly a decade ago, he decided it was time for a change and turned his wood-working side line into a full-time endeavor: Dark Horse Woodworks opened in 2007 in the Metropolitan Business and Arts District, a historic warehouse complex that has been transformed into a thriving center for art studios, galleries and workshops.
The company has come a long way since its beginning in a 220-square-foot home garage; after several moves to increasingly larger spaces, Dark Horse is now headquartered in a 7,000-square-foot space – something that seemed unimaginable back in those early garage days.
Dark Horse specializes in the design and hand-crafting of custom cabinetry and one-of-a-kind furniture for some of the most creative and discerning clients in the Southeast. Chris and his team have extensive experience crafting many styles, but most of their work is focused on contemporary and modern designs for kitchens, living areas, bathrooms, libraries and beyond.
The company’s collaborations with innovative design and architecture firms have led to awards as well as coverage in national publications such as Dwell magazine and The New York Times. A number of the homes Dark Horse has worked on have been featured on the Modern Atlanta tour in recent years.
Chris’s past experience project-managing commercial construction projects and working in the Internet/technology sector have had a major influence on the way that he runs his business. For example, he has made several major strategic decisions to invest in S2M software and equipment that would enable Dark Horse to work more efficiently and maintain its commitment to quality and old-school workmanship.
Chris is committed to staying ahead of the curve to meet the expectations of the ever-modernizing design and building fields; in August 2015, Dark Horse acquired Zero-Edge Technology to produce cabinetry and furniture components with seamless edges – a game-changer for the company and the industry as a whole.



Woodworking has been a consistent theme running through James Fox's life - some of his earliest memories are of nailing two boards together and cutting up fallen limbs on a table saw.  Growing up with a mechanic father and a garage full of tools, James also repaired small engines and bikes and built scale models in a small work area in his bedroom.  James learned woodworking by spending hours in that garage, attending shop classes in junior and senior high school, watching The Woodwright's Shop, and reading the books of Krenov, Frid, et al.  Postponing college, James went to work at his first wood shop, Joseph Katz Woodworking, where he quickly became the lead fabricator.  During his time there, James attended night and summer classes at Ursinus College, graduating with an Associate's Degree in Business Administration - Finance Concentration.  When the owner decided to close up shop and return to the Peace Corps, James took the summer off before taking jobs as a bouncer in Philadelphia and, of course, some carpentry work here and there.  Returning to the academic world, James graduated Summa Cum Laude from Temple University earning a Bachelor's Degree in Mathematical Economics - even attending the graduate economics program at University of Pennsylvania before deciding that creating with his hands was what he really wanted to do.  After leaving the world of academe, James returned to woodworking, taking a job at Scheel & Sharpe, a large architectural millwork company where he worked for about a year before setting out on his own.           

James established his own cabinetmaking business (now called Fox Woodworking, LLC) in 1998 and built a loyal client base.  James focuses on the residential market but does work for a few commercial clients as well.  He enjoys solving the challenges of custom cabinetry built to clients' demanding expectations.  While a small 1 - 2 person shop, James has always seen the value         of technology to the cabinetmaking business - moving quickly from pencil and paper drawings, to AutoCAD, to Microvellum's Toolbox CAD-CAM software several years ago (can a CNC machine be far behind?), and building his company's website.  His current focus is on implementing LEAN production and management principles in the shop and integrating the full functionality of Microvellum's Micromanager suite in the office.        

While attending AWFS for the first time in 2012, James first learned of the CMA.  He quickly learned the value of the organization after attending lectures by Dave Grulke on Marketing and Sean Benetin on Pricing.  However, it was during the "What's Your Problem" event that the true value of the organization shined.  Having the opportunity to talk about all of the issues that shop owners face with those who have been there before was a real eye-opener.  Since joining the CMA, James has enjoyed using and participating in the online forums and working in the CMA booth at the trade shows.           

As all of us know, running a cabinetmaking business is more than a full time job.  However, when he does get away from it, James likes to travel.  Whether it is tacking on some extra time after a trade show to see Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, and other natural wonders or taking a few weeks to get out of the country and see the world, he believes that travel is something we should all do more often.  For relaxation closer to home, James likes to swim, read, plan grand renovations for his house, and procrastinate yard work.

In addition to being a CMA member, James is a member of the National Kitchen and Bath Association, Phi Beta Kappa, Omicron Delta Epsilon, and the Golden Key National Honor Society.



Joe Knobbe began his woodworking career in the late 70’s apprenticing under a master cabinet maker. After becoming a journeyman he grew through the ranks to become Senior Project Manager for Exclusive Woodworking. A large Residential Architectural Woodworking firm founded in 1983 by brothers John and Doug Durbin.

Throughout his career he has helped keep Exclusive Woodworking on the cutting edge of technology and also helped them become a well-respected company in the greater Chicagoland Area. He has been instrumental in helping the company grow over the years and broaden its reach by finding and nurturing relationships in the design community. He has many years of experience in finding the people who best fit the business model Exclusive Woodworking promotes and has developed a knack for keeping and growing those relationships.

In 2008 Joe was elected to the Cabinet Makers Association Board of Directors. He’s also served on a number of successful committees. In the spring of 2010 He was elected President of the CMA a position that he held until the spring of 2012 when he was elected Secretary

Other Sessions from CMA:

BMG18 - Are you Running your Business or is it Running you?

BMG26 - Building a Valuable Business

BMG27 - The Art of Pricing Profitably

BMG29 - The Power of Leadership: Keeping Employees Inspired for the Long Run

BMG30 - Buying that Big Machine

MFG14 - Robots in the Small to Medium-Sized Shop

MFG15 - Acing that Modern Job

MFG16 - Transitioning to In-House Finishing – Profitably

MFG17 - LEAN Strategies for Small Shops